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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) passes against Mississippi State during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) ORG XMIT: MSRS105

WASHINGTON — The NCAA's decision this week to move forward with creating a compensation model for college athletes that is "consistent with the collegiate model" has bolstered efforts in Congress to pursue bipartisan legislation on the issue.

"While their words are promising, they have used words in the past to deny equity and basic constitutional rights for student-athletes," Rep. Mark Walker, a North Carolina Republican who is the lead sponsor of the Congressional bill that aims to force the NCAA's hand on the matter. 

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, the New Orleans Democrat who is the lead co-sponsor of the legislation, called Tuesday's announcement a "necessary step forward."

“Since its inception, the NCAA and collegiate sports programs have profited immensely off of student-athletes who have worked tirelessly to balance their sports and academic obligations," he said.

He said that he sees the federal legislation as having "moved this conversation in the right direction with equitable action.”

The NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to to allow student athletes an opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness within its still undefined model. Under that vote, the NCAA’s three divisions have been directed to immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies, so the precise framework it will follow remains unclear.

"The NCAA is on the clock, and while they are, we’re going to keep working towards the passage of the Student-Athlete Equity Act to make sure their words are forced into action," Walker said.

Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University in a news release, that the landmark vote — the league's first in support of athlete compensation — showed its willing to embrace the effort.

“Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships," he said.

Walker and Richmond's bill, first introduced in March, would amend federal tax code to remove a restriction on student-athletes using or profiting from the use of their name, image and likeness, effectively forcing the NCAA to overhaul its rules and stick to the change.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation a month ago to allow California college athletes to earn money by using their names, images and likenesses, predicting the new law would "initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation."

Walker and Richmond have sought the federal law to provide a more uniform process.

After the NCAA's announcement, Walker said the move bolstered the legislative effort.

“We clearly have the NCAA’s attention," he said.

Check back with The Advocate for more details.

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.